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Study: Idaho students struggled with hybrid, online learning

LEWISTON (AP) — Students suffered significant academic setbacks during the coronavirus pandemic, especially those in school districts that used hybrid or online learning models, according to two studies. 

Thomas Konrath, 6, looks up at spelling words on the board in front of his kindergarten class at Washington Elementary in Boise May 2006. AP Photo/ Troy Maben

The chief researcher for the Idaho State Board of Education presented the results to the board on Thursday.

The Lewiston Tribune reported that Cathleen McHugh told the board that the GPA for ninth grade students dropped from March 2020 to March 2021.

She said school districts that used a hybrid model saw a GPA decline of 0.13, and districts that shifted entirely online saw a GPA decline of 0.09. Districts that offered in-person instruction all year saw no change.

McHugh said those numbers translate into hundreds of students coming up short for Idaho’s Opportunity Scholarship and direct college admission programs.

“If the students don’t raise their GPAs, this will impact their eligibility for the scholarship and direct admission programs,” she said.

McHugh said that economically disadvantaged students saw a 0.22- and 0.23-point decrease in GPA, respectively, in hybrid and online schools.

For English language learners, the drop was 0.38 points and 0.41 points. Migrant students saw a drop of 0.42 points and 0.58 points.

“These students now have to raise their GPAs over the next three years, in order to become eligible for these programs,” McHugh said.

The second study found the likelihood that more students were getting a D or F in some required math and English classes offered in ninth through 12th grade.

“We know there’s been unfinished learning, and it’s been more significant for our (disadvantaged) populations,” said State Board President Kurt Liebich. “From a policy standpoint, I think we’ll be dealing with this for years.”

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